Vigilante Justice Rises in Haiti and Crime Plummets 自警正義在海地崛起 犯罪驟降
文/Frances Robles , Andre Pault
The 14 presumed gang members under arrest were arriving at a police station in Haiti's capital when a group of people overpowered the police, rounded up the suspects outside and used gasoline to burn them alive.
The gruesome executions April 24 marked the start of a brutal vigilante campaign to reclaim the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, from gangs that have inflicted terror on Haitians for nearly two years.
In a nation wracked by extreme poverty and violence, civilians have taken up arms and killed at least 160 people believed to be gang members in the six weeks since a citizens "self-defense" movement known as "bwa kale" kicked off its vigilantism with the brazen police station attack, according to data gathered in a new report by a prominent Haitian human rights group.
The result: a sharp drop in kidnappings and killings attributed to gangs in neighborhoods where people told The New York Times they had been afraid to leave their homes.
The outbreak of mob justice is worrisome, Haiti experts say, because it could easily be used to target people who have nothing to do with gangs and could lead to an explosion of even worse violence if the gangs seek retribution.
That it took a movement of self-appointed vigilantes to bring some semblance of calm to parts of Port-au-Prince underscores the chaos engulfing a country where no president has been elected in two years, and underpaid and outgunned police have fled in large numbers.
Even as vigilantes set people ablaze and set up checkpoints, many Haitians support them and consider them a natural consequence of an acute power vacuum.
Nearly two years ago, the last elected president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in his home and replaced by an interim prime minister widely viewed as inept. Elections have not been held since the assassination, and the Caribbean nation of 11 million people has no remaining elected officials. The acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, appealed last year for outside intervention, but efforts by the United States and other nations to mount an international contingent have stalled, largely because no country wants to lead it.
For Ukraine Military, Far-Right Russian Volunteers Make for Worrisome Allies 新納粹俄國民兵助陣 烏克蘭左「右」為難
A group of fighters aligned with Ukraine, who had participated earlier last month in the most intense fighting inside Russia's borders since the invasion, gathered the foreign and local press in an undisclosed location Wednesday to celebrate, to taunt the Kremlin and to show off what they called "military trophies" from their incursion into their native land: Russia.
Their leader, Denis Kapustin, was proud that his force of anti-Putin Russians at one point controlled, he said, 42 square kilometers of Russian territory.
"I want to prove that it's possible to fight against a tyrant," he said. "That Putin's power is not unlimited, that the security services can beat, control and torture the unarmed. But as soon as they meet a full armed resistance, they flee."
It was the rhetoric of a dissident freedom fighter, but there was a discordant note that emerged as clearly as the neo-Nazi Black Sun patch on the uniform of one of the soldiers: Kapustin and prominent members of the armed group he leads, the Russian Volunteer Corps, openly espouse far-right views.
Kapustin, who has long used the alias Denis Nikitin but typically goes by his military call sign, White Rex, is a Russian citizen who moved to Germany in the early 2000s. He associated with a group of violent soccer fans and later became, "one of the most influential activists" in a neo-Nazi splinter group in the MMA scene, officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have said.
Kapustin has reportedly been banned from entering Europe's visa-free, 27-country Schengen zone, but he has said only that Germany canceled his residency permit.
The fact that the group has garnered attention for its operation and revived coverage of the group's ties to neo-Nazis is an awkward development for Ukraine's government, particularly since President Vladimir Putin of Russia has justified his invasion on the false claim of fighting neo-Nazis and made it a regular theme of Kremlin propaganda.
Ukraine has denied any involvement in the Russian Volunteer Corps or any role in fighting on the Russian side of the border. But Kapustin said that his group "definitely got a lot of encouragement" from Ukrainian authorities.